Three of the commissioners of the FCC have voted on the Sirius (NASDAQ: SIRI) merger with XM Satellite (NASDAQ: XMSR). Two have voted in favor, and one has voted against. That leaves two other votes. In other words, the deal could still be killed.
One of the remaining commissioners has indicated that he would vote for the merger if the companies would agree to a six-year price cap on their services. According to The Wall Street Journal, "The offer was viewed as an attempt to start negotiations, but the companies so far are showing little interest in haggling."
Is it any wonder? The most recent earnings reports from the two companies indicate that, while their losses are getting smaller, their subscription growth rates are slowing. Each firm has more than $1 billion in debt and neither has ever had an operating profit. In other words, if the companies cannot raise their rates the chances of them becoming profitable are significantly curtailed.
The FCC may be putting Sirius and XM in an almost impossible position. If they are willing to make moves which could hurt their earnings longterm, they may get the votes they need for approval. If not, the merger could be scuttled.
The future of satellite radio is now based on two bad outcomes.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com